Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

15 July 2008 @ 10pm

The App Store: My Purchases (and Two Gaming Gems)

I ven­tured with our sum­mer intern to the Los Gatos Apple Store ear­ly on Fri­day morn­ing: we were in line by 4 AM, and were num­bers 23 and 24 in line. We were back at Apple by 9 AM, iPhone 3Gs in hand: we both got the 16 GB mod­el. I went with white (did­n’t you hear? It’s the new black!), while he opt­ed for fin­ger­print-reveal­ing black.

When our iPhones final­ly unlocked for use and synced with iTunes lat­er that after­noon, the Great App Store Pur­chase Binge began. I’ve bought some­where between 30 and 40 apps: most of them have been free, but a few weren’t. Here’s my rec­om­men­da­tions in no par­tic­u­lar order (and a cou­ple of games that every­one needs to try):

  • Twit­ter­rif­ic Pre­mi­um. Twit­ter on your iPhone: it was meant to be used this way. Quite use­ful to stay con­nect­ed when wan­der­ing away from a lap­top, and much eas­i­er than text mes­sage updates.
  • Expo­sure Pre­mi­um. Neat Flickr brows­ing appli­ca­tion from Fras­er Speirs, knowl­edge­able Mac devel­op­er and wran­gler of the Flickr API.
  • Instapa­per. A light­weight, quick web page “book­mark to read lat­er” app. I’ve used the web ver­sion since days after its ini­tial cre­ation. The iPhone app is even bet­ter: it down­loads offline copies of arti­cles, with both the orig­i­nal page, and an extract­ed text-only ver­sion. A lit­tle birdy told me that 1.0.1 is forth­com­ing with dele­tion capa­bilies; cur­rent­ly, you have to delete or mark arti­cles as read via the web interface.
  • Graf­fi­tio. You can cre­ate walls and post to them, anony­mous­ly and with no char­ac­ter lim­it. It uses Core Loca­tion to view walls at or near your loca­tion. This app is down­right strange on cam­pus, since the oth­er build­ings are close enough to let you read what iPod interns are post­ing in the Infi­nite Loop buildings.
  • Masyu, by Tim Burks, of Nu fame. A fan­tas­tic lit­tle puz­zle appli­ca­tion: there’s only two rules for map­ping a route through pieces on the board, so it’s sim­ple to learn. The larg­er puz­zles use a few more pieces to great effect, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult in spite of the inher­ent sim­ple rules.
  • Cubes (game­play demo here). A very neat reverse Tetris meets a Rubik’s cube puz­zle game.
  • Sol. A sim­ple dis­play of sun­set, sun­rise and twi­light hours. I’ve had this wid­get on Dash­board for next-to-for­ev­er, so this was an obvi­ous purchase.

I have one sug­ges­tion for devel­op­ers: in the appli­ca­tion’s info on the App Store, post a link to a fif­teen or thir­ty sec­ond screen­cast demo of the app. There’s sev­er­al apps that I was unsure of, such as Cubes, but see­ing a game­play demo made it obvi­ous that I would enjoy it. This goes for all devel­op­ers, not just game devs: we want to see how the app works, what the flow is like.

All told, I’ve spent 63 dol­lars on the App Store so far. Most of the mon­ey has gone towards the ten dol­lar appli­ca­tions like Twit­ter­rif­ic and Expo­sure Pre­mi­um. I think most devel­op­ers are leav­ing gobs of mon­ey on the table: I’d have paid more for Cubes, Masyu, and oth­er games, and appli­ca­tions like Instapa­per could charge sev­er­al dol­lars and I’d buy them. (Instapa­per may have a pre­mi­um ver­sion com­ing out in the future with more features.)

The max­im of Mac devel­op­ment still holds true for App Store apps: charge more now, you can always low­er your price later.